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LOVELACE doesn’t go deep enough

8 Jan


The life of Linda Boreman is dramatized in the biographical film, Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role.  Her performance along with Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor and Sharon Stone as her mother are outstanding. At first, audiences are invited to witness the events that lead to Linda becoming an overnight sensation in America, but the film concludes with events that went on behind her 15 minutes of fame. The strategy works and forces audiences to realize the darkness that pollutes this industry built on sex, drugs, and abuse. However, the rest of the moving parts are mediocre because the film is unable to delve deep enough into any particular event. The film moves quickly, but since it plays the same story twice it seems like it stands still in time like a record skipping on a scratch.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C

Into the Wild captures the spirit

16 Aug


Sean Penn waited nearly a decade to make the  film about a driven young man’s desire to abandon his comfortable, civilized world and embark on an adventure that would lead him to the Alaskan wilderness. Into the Wild is based on Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction novel about the inspiring, but tragic story of Christopher McCandless. Penn assembles a thought-provoking film filled with refreshing messages about life, passion, and the pursuit of happiness.

The film intermingled a narrative that can become tedious and the 148 minute run time should have been addressed, but there is no denying Emile Hirsch’s hauntingly powerful performance as Christopher. It keeps the film engaging and on a personal level. His journey of self-realization is unforgettable and his decisions become a topic of debate concerning liberation and destruction. Love it or hate it, the film captures the life and death of young man trying to live life on his terms.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A-

Get Milk!

7 Jan


Gus Van Sant’s biographical film about Harvey Milk is a statement about courage, determination, and sacrifice.  Based on the true story of how Milk (Sean Penn) was elected as San Francisco’s first openly gay city councilor in 1978. The film mixes archival footage from the 1970s into the drama as it shows Harvey and his partner (James Franco) leave New York to open a small camera shop on Castro Street. From there, audiences learn about Harvey’s life and his eventual attempts for political office, as well as the his interactions with fellow supervisor board member Dan White (Josh Brolin).

Dustin Lance Black’s award winning script provides a strong foundation for these talented actors to embody Milk’s spirit. He avoids Hollywood’s insensitive stereotypes of gay men and demonstrates the humanity of a man driven to do something important with his life. Penn reaches mainstream audiences like no other actor before him and he deservedly wins a second Oscar his performance. Get Milk!


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A-

Almost Famous: Bootleg Cut

5 Dec


Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is my favorite Rock and Roll movie. I love the fact that it is more than a movie about music, although the soundtrack is stellar. The film is about 15 year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) that writes his way into Rolling Stone Magazine by going on tour with a band named Stillwater. Along the way, he learns a more adult perspective of the music business. Crowe’s story is partly based on his real-life experiences when he covered the tours of such bands as, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles.

He creates a series of rich characters that help William experience all the high notes and low notes of being an adolescent. Frances McDormand is wonderful as William’s mom while Billy Crudup plays a charismatic frontman, but the best performance comes from Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, who steals “the show” and more than one heart. I recommend the Bootleg Version for the avid music fan.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A

Hitchcock is the master of suspense

26 Nov

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the greatest directors Hollywood has ever seen, but ironically, he has never won an Oscar for his efforts.  This year’s Academy Awards will have plenty of nominations for the recent biopic starring Anthony Hopkins as the “corpulent” and aging filmmaker trying to make Psycho. Hollywood loves films about the movie business and this one delivers a poignant look at director’s creative genius, the movie studio’s stupidity, and Hitchcock’s career long relationship with his wife and partner,  Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), who has a prominent role in the success of the film.

The power of the film comes from his Hopkins and Mirren’s relationship finding itself at an emotional crossroads, but like most biopics, a darker side of the character must be explored to keep it from becoming a docudrama. In Hitchcock, the filmmaker’s not-so secret obsession with his blonde leading ladies is respectfully introduced to audiences, but kept under control by director Sacha Gervasi.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: N/A

The Runaways gives a solid “performance”

15 Nov

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning found time between their Twilight franchise shooting schedules to make this small film about the 1970s all girl Rock/Punk band, The Runaways.  The film focuses on the relationship between the iconic Joan Jett (Stewart) and the band’s singer, Cherie Currie. Although, the film documents the band’s rise in popularity, the writer and director, Floria Sigismondi is more interested in capturing a “coming of age” story about a young girl (Currie) having her dreams come true only to lose them through a series of destructive decisions that will ultimately lead to the band breaking up.

Sigismondi does a great job capturing the Los Angeles music scene through the film’s music, costumes, and unique characters, such as record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), who brings comic relief to the movie, but at the same time shows the darker side of the music business. The Runaways gives a solid “performance” but it is not on my daily “playlist.”


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: B-

The Sea Inside moves with grace

6 Nov

One of my regrets is letting this film sit on my shelf for a year before finally putting it in the DVD player. I knew the movie had won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2005, but there it sat collecting dust, until I saw Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.

Based on a true story about Ramon Sampedro’s (Javier Bardem) quest to legally end his life on his own terms because of diving accident that left him a quadriplegic. The majority of this film takes place in Sampedro’s bedroom where he is confined to his bed. Alejandro Amenabar’s skillful storytelling and direction keep this film moving gracefully by balancing a number of personal relationships with Sampedro. Each person he talks with has a different kind of interaction with him that ranges from love to frustration to despair. Bardem’s performance is simply beautiful. He is truly one of the most gifted actors working in cinema today.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: B+

Braveheart inspires

3 Nov

Mel Gibson has become a controversial figure over the past few years, but you cannot ignore his body of work as an actor and a director. In 1995, Gibson was at the height of his career when he directs, produces, and stars in his epic tale of William Wallace, a Scottish patriot who fought for his country’s freedom against English tyranny.  Although the historical accuracy of Braveheart is marginal at best, the film is a great adventure story that captured the imaginations of audiences (except the British) with a perfect blend of action, romance, and humor.

The film’s production value has not diminished a bit over the years. The large-scale battles are well choreographed and remind older generations of great films, such as Spartacus and The Battle of Waterloo. Gibson’s charismatic speeches heightens the film’s heroism and his climatic final words inspires people from all walks of life  to look in the mirror and be grateful for their FREEDOM.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A

The Hurricane gives a knockout performance

1 Nov

Critically acclaimed director, Norman Jewison finds himself in the corner with another great actor to bring justice to the tragic story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. A middleweight boxer accused of triple homicide and convicted to three life sentence. The film starts at the beginning of Carter’s life and follows him in the boxing ring, and eventually his arrest and wrongful imprisonment for twenty years. Like his portrayal of Malcolm X, Denzel Washington’s performance makes audience forget he is acting. His ability to embody his character with such truthfulness and believability is astounding. Audiences feel the spectrum of emotions and feelings this real-life character is experiencing because of Washington and Jewison’s attention to detail. The film is like a 15 round fight filled with ups and downs, flurries of action, knockdowns, and the exhilaration of victory. There are always disagreements about the accuracy of facts when such a film is made, but no one can deny the knockout performance of Denzel Washington.


Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B

American Gangster

31 Oct

American Gangster is based on the true story of Frank Lucas. Denzel Washington plays this larger than life Harlem gangster from the early 1970s that takes control of Harlem’s underworld by importing heroin directly from Bangkok using U.S. military planes from Vietnam for transportation. His product “Blue Magic” puts Lucas directly in the crosshairs of detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). The two academy award-winning actors play cat and mouse wonderfully together. Both characters are interesting and audiences are not completely sure which side of the law they are on.

The main problem with the film come from Ridley Scott’s inability to maintain an engaging pace. The film falls flat at times and it seems like he is too reserved. Maybe he is trying to be historically accurate as he can, but there seems to be lost moments from time to time. American Gangster successfully captures a unique part of American history that has been ignored and/or forgotten by most.


Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: B